How can we support people with dementia to live well?

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Around 850,000 people are estimated to have dementia in the UK, and that figure is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025.

Rising prevalence has led to a number of new initiatives focussing on the condition. In 2015, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020 set out more than 50 commitments with the hope of making England a world leader in dementia care, research and awareness by 2020.

Efforts like this are starting to reap rewards, and there have been recent improvements in the rates of diagnosis and new funds being developed to research the condition.

However, despite these positive steps, we know people with dementia and their carers still find it hard to get good quality care and support or to lead as active a life in the community as they could.

With this in mind, Age UK started looking at what ‘living well’ meant to people with dementia and their carers, and from there we branched out to find an array of services and approaches that could help them achieve this. Our findings are published in a new report, ‘Promising Approaches to Living Well with Dementia.’

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The Christmas quiz you did not expect

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This blog post was contributed by Angela Kitching, Joint Head of External Affairs at Age UK. 

Christmas time, a time for families to reconnect, to eat together, to chat and to think about the challenges the New Year might bring. I don’t know about you, but in my family that means talking about about some of the conundrums faced by our family and friends. This year they included care arrangements and funding, loneliness, bereavement and ill health. I don’t want you to think we were miserable, we weren’t, there were great parties, lots of food and excited 5 year olds amazed by Father Christmas; but, at Christmas we did also check in with each other about the difficulties our family and friends face. We found the quizzes in the newspapers considerably easier to solve than these tricky family conundrums.

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Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget

Today Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, is reported to be making a call for more funding from the forthcoming Budget, warning that without it the quality of healthcare available to us all is sure to suffer.

His is a call that Age UK supports. The numbers speak for themselves: the NHS is experiencing a degree of sustained belt-tightening that is unprecedented in modern times – this while an ageing population is inevitably increasing the demand for services.

From an Age UK perspective we worry a lot about the impact of this stress in the system on older people, for whom the ability to get the right treatment and support quickly is hugely important – whether it is to help them sustain good health and wellbeing or because they have health and care problems that need to be addressed.  Continue reading “Not an ‘either/or’: Health and Care both urgently need investment in the Budget”

Driverless cars – the Flourish project

0000013Driving their own car is important to older people, with nearly 70% of households where someone is over 70 have their own car. In July, the DVLA announced that for the first time, the number of driving licences held by people over 90 had surpassed 100,000. But the numbers who at that age had given up driving, perhaps because of diminishing cognitive skills or poor eyesight, and the numbers who were restricting their driving because they did not want to drive in the dark, in poor weather, on motorways or in the rush hours will have been considerable. Such avoidance behaviour, and especially in areas with poor public transport options, can constrain the social engagement and inclusion of older people, reducing their resilience and independence. There will be a knock-on effect on their sense of wellbeing, which in turn can lead to loneliness and a declining appetite for life, and perhaps on to depression. Continue reading “Driverless cars – the Flourish project”

Science and Serendipity

This blog was contributed by James Goodwin, Age UK’s Chief Scientist. 

Recently, I received the sad news of the death of a dear friend and colleague who through his example, leadership and support had helped to change the course of my career.  Dr Ken Collins, a notable researcher and physician of old age medicine was instrumental in evoking my interest in ageing, at a crucial time in my life.  Our meeting was as fortuitous as it was timely, a truly serendipitous moment.  Through it, he began my life-long dedication to ageing science but more so, he implanted the priceless notion that we must go beyond the simple necessity of high quality research – vital though that is – and seek to generate impact, to change society in its approach, in its thinking and in its behaviour, so that genuine benefits accrue to older people. Continue reading “Science and Serendipity”

APPG for Ageing and Older People – Why we’re launching an inquiry into human rights

This week the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People is launching a new inquiry into human rights. Between now and the spring we’ll be holding meetings to discuss our key topics, share best practice examples and collect evidence. This will inform a final report of recommendations on how we can further the protection of the rights of older people. Continue reading “APPG for Ageing and Older People – Why we’re launching an inquiry into human rights”

Guest blog: Enabling older people to flourish in the new age of data driven technologies

Photo credit: Elif Ayiter, Flickr creative Commons

This blog post was contributed by Barbara Limon, Interim Head of Public Policy at the British Academy

Barely a day goes by without a news story about the robots taking over or discussion around the influence firms like Facebook and Google now wield. We have reached a critical moment in the development of data science and data-enabled technologies. Continue reading “Guest blog: Enabling older people to flourish in the new age of data driven technologies”